Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Liv ForeverFrom Goodreads: When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it.
 
But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living.
 
Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.

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This a very well written story that, unfortunately, starts out just like all the other boarding school novels I’ve read lately. A scholarship student goes to a boarding school, isn’t liked by many, falls in love with the school hottie, and… is killed… finds out there is some bad mojo with the secret society within the school… realizes there are ghosts around… and basically fits the mold for the “boarding school” YA novel. It reminds me a little of a mash up of Poor Little Dead Girls, And We Stay, and Deceived.  Now don’t get me wrong, those are all good books, but I really wanted something different with this one, and even though these books are all different, there’s enough similarities that it just didn’t pique my interest all that much in the beginning.

Now, Liv, Forever focuses on Liv’s death, whereas the other novels I’ve read focus more so on attempted murders, so that was a nice change, especially as Liv’s ghost comes back to haunt Gabe as they try to figure out what happened.  And, while the first half of the novel fits the mold for this type of novel nicely, the last half of the book is where is begins to branch out and become a different story, which in turn caught my interest.  If you’ve never read a novel that takes place in a boarding school before, then I’d definitely recommend this as a good starting point.  I enjoyed the aspects of the ghosts, and I liked Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm as characters.  I also especially enjoyed the stories of each ghost’s death, told in first person, as if readers are drawn into the story to put the pieces together.  However, I felt the beginning dragged on a bit and it just seemed too much like déjà vu for me as a reader, especially with the similarities to novels that have come before it, so even though I enjoyed some aspects, it doesn’t stand out in my mind, personally, all that much.  Three stars.

3 starsSoho Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Edelweiss, prior to its release on March 11, 2014, in exchange for an honest review.

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17887925From Goodreads: Perfect people aren’t just born. They’re made.

The first time she is blindfolded and kidnapped, star-athlete and posh boarding school newbie Sadie is terrified. She wakes up in a dark room surrounded by hushed whispers, hooded strangers, and a mysterious voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in her ear.

But once the robes come off, she realizes it’s just an elaborate prank designed to induct her into the group that’s been pulling the strings at Keating Hall for generations. The circle has it all–incredible connections; fabulous parties; and, of course, an in with the brother society’s gorgeous pledges.

The instant popularity is enough to make Sadie forget about the unexplained marks on her body, the creepy ceremonial rituals, and the incident that befell one of her teammates the year before. So the next time Sadie is kidnapped, she isn’t scared, but she should be. The worst of Keating Hall is yet to come.

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Sadie has just received a scholarship to the prestigious Keating Hall, the boarding school of the elite.  It sounds innocent enough, but the real reason behind the scholarship has yet to be revealed, and Sadie has no idea what she’s about to get herself into as she accepts the lavish gifts bestowed upon her, or how it all relates back to her dead mother…

I went in to this novel thinking that it would be similar to other novels I’ve read that have to do with secret societies, and while it is, in a way, it’s also vastly different.  I can’t say much more than that without giving away pieces of the plotline, but know that this society delves deep in its sinister plans, especially when it comes to the lives of its members.

I really like Sadie, though she drove me a bit nuts at times.  I do understand being sworn to secrecy, but I also understand gut feelings, and if something just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  In other words, it’s better to tell someone than to try and go it alone.  Sadie struggles with this throughout the entire novel, which actually makes her extremely real.  Working with high school students, I see this often—many teens would rather go it alone or tell someone their age than deal with an adult, which fits Sadie’s M.O. exactly.  I loved that she was snarky and real, but as the story went on, some of it did seem a bit far-fetched to me.  Now, I’m also not rolling in money and I’m not famous, so it is quite possible that the people Sadie runs with do have the means to do much of what they do in the novel, but as a regular everyday person, I still feel like some of it is just beyond real.  I mean, if I was Sadie, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of those things… but that’s okay, because regardless, the story itself was extremely interesting and I enjoyed it overall.  And if you’re even the tiniest bit interested in secret societies, mystery, and suspense, then this is a novel that I highly suggest you read. Four stars.

4 stars

F+W/Adams Media and Merit Press have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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